The event was called “Cultural Refuge” and took place on October 28th at Anjos70, a cultural alternative space in a very multicultural area in Lisbon. It was a shiny day and me and a group of 8 volunteering staff arrived early to the venue to prepare everything: move tables and chairs around, create lounge areas, a children’s corner, set the 3 photo exhibitions (Route to Connect / Proactiva Open Arms / Joel Bergner) and get ready to welcome the projects around 11:00.
The different projects arrived and start setting their stands:
“Tayybeh” is a food project of 3 Syrian women that sells Syrian food, does catering for events and did their first 2 cooking workshops at the event, for 15 participants each.
“Arabic Hands” is a project of 4 Syrians that do henna tattoo, write people’s names in Arabic and sell wool goods. The Arabic teacher belongs to this project and he gave 4 classes of Arabic Language of more than 1 hour for 15 participants each.
“Amal Soap“ project belongs to a family that produces Aleppo soap to sell but they are also great in baking cookies, so they were selling both and they gave a workshop for 15 participants, filling the room with a great smell.
“Marhaba” is a cooking project with a Syrian team and an Eritrean team that sold food; the Eritrean team also gave a cooking workshop. On the event was a Syrian couple of tailors that arrived in Portugal less than a month ago that were selling wool and other handmade goods.
The event started at 12:00 and at around 16:00 we had an amazing Arabic dancer giving a great show and amusing everyone. Until 20:00, the time the event ended, around 250 people came to visit us, enjoying the food, the sun and the great environment. In the end, all the participants were tired but very happy.
During the day the feedback was great, a lot of people told us that we should repeat the event. The day after, we received the most heart-filling message: the child of the family of Amal Soap project told us that it was one of his happiest days since he arrived in Portugal. – Marta, an organizer of the event and participant of ”A Route to Connect” Balkan study trip